One health

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Definition :

The concept of one-health aims at taking into account the interdependencies between the health condition of animals and humans in their environment especially for infectious diseases. We proposed to include the role of contaminants and diet composition for taking into account non-transmissible diet-related chronic diseases. Considering the interdependencies between the different domains of the living world (from ecosystems to human) makes it possible to renew the analysis of the sustainability of agro-food systems. This analysis is based on different health indicators for the living, of which examples are given hereafter.

The ways of producing in agriculture and transforming raw materials in the agro-business to produce food, impact both the local environment (nitrates, ammonia, biodiversity) and the global environment (greenhouse gas emissions), but also human health (life expectancy in good health). Depending on the conditions of agricultural production, the health of the soil depends on fauna (presence of earthworms) and microorganisms (organic matter content). The health of cultivated plants and livestock (disease resistance) also depends on their behaviour. On a larger scale, the health of landscape (the resilience of ecosystems according to their spatial organization) is also affected. Ultimately, human health is affected by the environment, the composition of food (pesticide residues) and the nature of the food consumed (ratio between plant and animal proteins, degree of food processing). To underline the fact that the health conditions of these different domains of the living world are largely interdependent, we used an enlarged definition of “one health”.

Agroecology, based on a higher plant and animal biodiversity, helps initiating virtuous circles for the health of several areas of the living. An example is the importance of pulses for the health of agroecosystems and humans: (i) their insertion in cropping systems reduces the need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and therefore greenhouse gas emissions, and improves soil fertility; (ii) their nutrients contribute to better health conditions for animals (richness in alfalfa omega-3) and humans (richness in polyphenols, proteins, fibres).

Published on 07 June 2017

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